George Lopez is the next jazz master… of sorts.
The 51-year-old Mexican American comedian/actor has been named the new master of ceremonies for the Playboy Jazz Festival, which will be taking place at the Hollywood Bowl on June 15-16.
This year’s lineup includes India.Arie, Sheila E., Trombone Shorty, Bob James/David Sanborn, George Duke with Jeffrey Osborne, Angelique Kidjo with Hugh Masekela and Taj Mahal.
The two-day fest, celebrating its 35th anniversary, will also present three world premieres. These include Naturally 7 with special guest Herbie Hancock; an 80th birthday salute to Quincy Jones by the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with special guests Patti Austin and Hubert Laws; and jazz pianist Elew who, like India.Arie and Mahal, is making his first appearance at the festival. In addition, the Brubeck Brothers Quartet will perform a special tribute to the late Dave Brubeck.
Lopez takes over the emcee duties from Bill Cosby, who helmed the fest for more than 30 years. Described as the “perfect choice” to host by Playboy Jazz Festival’s president emeritus Richard Rosenzweig, Lopez called it a “most tremendous honor” to get the call from Cosby to be emcee.
He also noted that Cosby was giving him pointers like “don’t let the musicians in your dressing room because they will eat up all your food.”
Lopez later told Billboard.biz that he’s a longtime jazz fan. “To attend the show in this capacity is beyond whatever I could have imagined.” A guitar enthusiast, he noted that he’d also “love to play one song” with an act during the show. “That’s my goal.”